Faith had been standing outside of Buffy's house for nearly twenty minutes now. She'd gotten there early and could see that Buffy was still up in her room getting ready, so she perched herself against the front tree and just watched, her eyes sparking in the moonlight.
There were a million thoughts going through her mind as she watched Buffy's shadow dance across the opened window upstairs. Lots of those thoughts were pervy and she was trying to banish them as soon as they'd popped up. Buffy wasn't that kind of girl. Sure, Faith doubted that she was the Virgin Mary incarnate, but she sure wasn't the kind who was used to one night stands and the old fuck-n-run.
Buffy was different.
Buffy was special.
Buffy was watching her from the window with a smirk on her face.
"You could have come inside to wait, you know," Buffy said, her palms pressed against the window sill as she looked down into the front yard.
Trying to play it cool, Faith stepped away from the base of the tree, holding up her hands in mock surrender. "Ya caught me, B. I was just tryin' to catch a glimpse of ya in your birthday suit."
She winked and Buffy laughed, not looking annoyed or put off at all. Okay, that was progress. Maybe Cordelia was right; maybe Buffy did like her like that.
"Did you want to come in? My mom's not home and I need a few more minutes to get myself together."
Faith's brain had stopped working half way through hearing that. Joyce wasn't home and Buffy was inviting her inside? And she was still smiling? What kind of bizarre alternate universe had she stepped into, Faith wondered. Deciding not to dwell on it for too long – she liked this friendly Buffy, after all – she shook her head and smiled.
"I'm okay out here, blondie. Get your ass in gear and meet me out here."
Buffy smiled and nodded, then disappeared back inside her room, closing the window behind her. Only a few minutes passed by before Buffy appeared at the front door, looking fresh and smelling good and so not how she usually dressed for slaying. Faith was waiting for her on the front porch and tried not to make it too obvious that she was checking her out.
Shit, maybe this was a date after all.
"Are you ready?" Buffy asked.
"Uh, yeah," Faith answered.
She stood up from the wooden porch railing and wiped off the back of her legs quickly. She wasn't sure what protocol was; did she walk down the steps first and then offer Buffy her hand, or did she let Buffy go first and follow after? Why the hell was dating so complicated, especially when she wasn't even sure if it even was a date?
Making up her mind, she awkwardly held out her arm, indicating that Buffy should go first. Buffy smiled and headed down the steps and Faith followed after her, quickly catching up so that they could walk side by side. They fell into step easily, taking a more leisurely pace than usual. Nearly five minutes passed by before one of them spoke.
"Aren't you worried that you're gonna get your nice outfit all messed up?" Faith finally asked, breaking the silence.
"I wasn't exactly planning on rolling around in the mud with the baddies," Buffy said. "Besides, I spoke with Giles and he said we can take it easy this week. There haven't been many deaths or cases of people reported missing so there's not a big chance we'll catch any new risers."
"Wicked," Faith replied easily. She tucked her hands in her pockets and shrugged a little. "Well, we're already near Restfield so we should probably do a quick sweep. Not sure what ya wanna do after, but . . ."
"I'm sure we can find something to do on a Friday night," Buffy said with a smile.
Faith nodded and they walked through the front gate of the cemetery, quietly making small talk as they strolled through.
They'd spent less than an hour in the cemetery, not finding any vamps to slay and just one Cardil Beast that went down without much of a fight. When they reached the other side of the cemetery, some flashing lights down the oddly busy street caught their attention. They couldn't see what the commotion was until they'd cleared the leafy trees, and that was when their faces lit up.
"It's a carnival," Buffy said happily.
"Wanna check it out?" Faith asked, excited and hopeful that Buffy wouldn't find it lame.
Buffy met her gaze and then did something that shocked Faith to no end. She got closer and looped her arm through Faith's, then waited for her to lead them through. Faith stared down at Buffy's small hand lightly gripping her bicep, then up at her shy but smiling face. If she'd been waiting for some kind of signal, she was pretty sure that was it.
This had officially gone from routine patrol to a date, and for some reason it didn't freak Faith out. In fact, it made her swell with confidence and she smiled brightly, then led them off down the brightly lit street.
There were people everywhere including families with small kids and other teens and college-age kids, all laughing and having a great time. Faith was relieved that she'd made some money that week doing odd-jobs around the hotel. She would have been mortified if she hadn't been able to buy Buffy whatever she'd wanted.
Both sides of the street were filled with games and food vendors and little booths with people selling jewelry and crafts and the like. There was a woman with long curly black hair doing henna tattoos and Buffy stopped at the booth, looking through the few laminated pages of designs that were pinned to the wall.
"Is it really lame if I get one of these?" Buffy asked.
"Nah, it'll be hot on ya," Faith replied. "And besides, it'll save ya the hassle of having to deal with your Ma if it was a real one."
"Very true," Buffy said. She glanced at the pages for another minute, biting gently on her lower lip. Finally she smiled and pointed to one of the designs, an intricate circle of tribal flowers and vines. "That one, please."
The artist glanced at it and nodded, then invited Buffy to sit down in an empty seat. Buffy sat down and reclined back, lifting up her shirt a bit to make it obvious that she wanted it on her belly. Faith smiled down at her and tried not to stare at her perfectly flat but soft stomach, but when the artist started working on her, it was the perfect excuse to stare without being obvious.
Ten minutes later when the design was done, the artist told Buffy she needed to sit there and let it dry for a few minutes. Faith took a seat next to her and, without thinking, puckered her lips and started to blow on the design. It wasn't something she did to be sexy or forward; there were just a hundred other things she wanted to see and thought that it would speed up the process.
The look that Buffy gave her, though, let her know the effect it must've been having on the girl. Buffy was biting gently on her lower lip again and it took everything Faith had not to kick the artist out of the small tent so that she could have her wicked way with Buffy. She restrained herself though and winked at Buffy before standing up and offering her hand.
Buffy took it and stood up . . . and didn't let go.
Faith had never really held hands with anyone before. Maybe with her mom when she was little, and maybe with one or two people when she was leading them off the dance floor. She waited for the instinct to pull away to kick in but it never came. Buffy's hand was small and soft and fit perfectly in hers. After staring down at their joined hands for probably long enough to make Buffy uncomfortable, Faith finally looked up and smiled, then led them out of the tent and back out onto the busy street.
They wandered for a bit and ended up at a food stand that was cooking French fries and blooming onions. While Faith loved blooming onions, she passed on ordering one just in case there would be a goodnight smooch involved later. No way would she ever kiss Buffy with onion breath. Instead they ordered a large plateful of fries and sat down at a vacant table off to the side. They doused them with a plentiful portion of ketchup, something they'd both agreed upon as soon as they sat down.
"These are awesome," Faith said as she pulled a huge curlicue fry from the bunch and lowered it into her mouth.
"They are. I'll have to run ten miles to work off the calories tomorrow," Buffy replied, then ate another curly fry.
"You don't need to do that, B. Your body is amazing. In fact, I think you should probably eat a few more fries. Maybe a candy apple and some cotton candy too."
Buffy smiled shyly and looked down as she finished her fry, then looked back up at Faith.
"Just so we're clear . . . that was flirting, right?" At Faith's surprised look, Buffy awkwardly continued. "Because I'm usually pretty good at reading signals with guys, but you're not a guy and this is all new to me. What I think is flirting might just be the way you are with everyone and then I'd just feel awkward and have to change my name and go into witness protection so I'd never have to re-live the horrifying tale, and really, I've finally made peace with the fact that I'm named Buffy. If I have to change it now, all of the hard work and humiliation I've endured over the years will be for nothing."
Faith just stared at her for a few moments before busting out laughing. Buffy laughed too and took a sip of her lemonade while Faith tried to compose herself. When Faith was finally able to stop, she looked over at Buffy and smiled.
"Yeah, B, it was flirting. And the thing is, yeah, I kinda do it with everyone." When she saw Buffy's smile fall just a fraction, Faith quickly continued. "I'm not the kinda girl that holds hands and goes on dates, yunno? I've never done it before, but . . . I dunno. I wanna do it with you."
"For what it's worth, you're doing it well."
"Uh-huh," Buffy nodded. "And it's not like I've ever actually done this either," Buffy said, nodding her head slightly to indicate the space around them.
"You never ate French fries at a carnival?" Faith asked, then grinned. "God, you really lead a sheltered life."
Buffy laughed and shook her head. "No, I've been to carnivals and had my fair share of French fries. I mean . . . this. I've never . . . with a girl. I don't even know if you're into me like that or anything . . ."
"I am," Faith cut in and Buffy smiled.
"I think I am too. Into you, I mean," Buffy clarified. "And I don't know what the rules are and how things go, and trust me when I say that I've never really been this forward with anyone I've been interested in."
"But," Buffy began and paused for a moment before continuing, "just but. Here we are."
Faith smiled and nodded a little, then shoveled a few more fries into her mouth. When she was done chewing them up, she stood up and held out her hand to Buffy. Buffy looked at it, then up at Faith's face.
"Well, if we're here, we're gonna do it right, even if I ain't too sure what happens next."
"I can help you out with that if you want," Buffy offered. She took Faith's hand and stood up.
"Yeah? Alright, shoot. What's next?"
Buffy grinned and started leading them back toward the street.
"You win me a teddy bear."
It was almost two hours later and they were headed back to Buffy's house, taking a short detour through St. Matthew's cemetery. Buffy had a ridiculously large stuffed panda bear under one arm but still managed to keep the other one looped through Faith's. They'd stayed at the carnival until the vendors started closing down, but that wasn't until after they'd been permanently banned from the dart game.
Apparently, slayer accuracy was cheating, though the game operator hadn't referred to it quite that way.
"Freaky Dart-Throwing Mojo Powers," Buffy said aloud, repeating the game operator's words from earlier. "Do you think that's something I can list on my college applications?"
"Hell yeah," Faith said. "Colleges love hot chicks with superpowers."
"They do?" Buffy asked, trying to hide her amusement.
Faith thought about it and shrugged. "Well if they don't they should. You'd get into any college you applied to cos you got it goin' on in the hot chick department.
And Buffy couldn't help but smile at that. She stopped walking and Faith did too when she realized that Buffy's arm was holding her back. She raised an eyebrow in question.
"Can I help you out again?" Buffy asked.
Faith looked nervous. What the hell had she done wrong? "Yeah," she said timidly.
Buffy smiled coyly and put her giant bear down on a gravestone, then fully faced Faith. She looked up at her through her eyelashes.
"When you say something like that, it's the perfect opportunity to follow it up with a kiss."
"It is?" Faith asked.
Buffy nodded and took a tiny step closer. It was all the encouragement that Faith needed. Her heart was thumping loudly in her chest when she tilted her head down and gave Buffy's hand a quick yank. Buffy came flying into her – okay, maybe not the most graceful of first kisses – and their lips instantly met.
Faith had never quite kissed someone so tentatively and without a bit of groping, but she was happy to let Buffy set the pace this time around. She could hear her heartbeat in her ears and she was pretty sure that Buffy's lips were the most delicious thing she'd ever tasted. Yet.
Just when it seemed like Buffy was really starting to get into it, they were hit from the side by the giant stuffed bear. They broke apart and looked over, annoyed, to see a vamp standing there with feral smile on his face.
"Ooh, I hit them both. I wonder if they're both my prize now," he said.
Faith practically growled as she picked up the now dirty bear and handed it to Buffy. "Mind if I take this one?" she asked and when Buffy nodded, Faith faced the vampire and grinned. "Sorry buddy, only one prize per customer. And there's a catch."
"What's that?" he asked as he began to approach.
Faith whipped out her stake and threw it at him, dusting him on the spot. It wasn't her usual style, but a good slay would rile her up too much and she was pretty sure she'd end up humping Buffy's leg on her front porch if that happened. She adjusted her jacket and cracked her neck.
"Sometimes the prizes throw things back," she said with a smirk.
After a moment Buffy appeared at her side and watched the dust settle appreciatively.
"Freaky Stake-Throwing Mojo Powers," she said.
"And then some," Faith replied with a grin. When Buffy looped her hand through Faith's arm, they started walking slowly once again. They made small talk until they reached Buffy's front porch where they stopped and stood awkwardly for a few moments.
"So, my mom's still not home," Buffy said quietly. "She's in San Francisco for the weekend at an art exhibit." She'd been looking down at her feet but when she looked up, her eyes were sparkling with something Faith hadn't ever seen in them before.
It was the same thing that had been in Faith's eyes when she'd been watching Buffy upstairs in her room earlier. That simple fact made Faith's pulse quicken just a little.
This was really happening. Buffy really wanted her. Cordelia clearly was smarter than Faith gave her credit for.
"That a fact?" Faith asked, her hands finding Buffy's sides. Her thumbs slipped under the material of her shirt and she caressed her warm skin.
"Uh-huh," Buffy replied.
They stared into each other's eyes until Faith was sure she was going to burst from a sudden onslaught of want. She controlled herself though and swallowed loudly.
Self-restraint was hard.
"But you know I can't come in, right?"
"I don't know that," Buffy said playfully.
Faith laughed quietly and shook her head. "If I come in, things are gonna happen. Really good things, but things that probably shouldn't happen yet cos you're new at this and, hell, I'm new at this too, and I don't wanna mmph."
Her words were cut off by a pair of soft yet insistent lips. She mumbled against Buffy's mouth, trying to voice her protests and stop things from happening, but Buffy's hands gripped onto the hem of her shirt and tugged her backwards through the front door and over a long-forgotten stuffed panda bear.